Mr Blasberg
6:22 am

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE COUTURE SHOWS IN PARIS? GLAMOUR, GAGA, RUNNING SHOES AND BUTTERFLIES

24/01/2014, Fast + Louche

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This week in Paris was cold, damp and grey. But wasn’t it gorgeous?

The disparities between seasons in the haute couture are vast: One is held in July, the peak of summer and when Paris is teeming with tourists and sunshine. The other in January, when the town is decadently empty. Each is remarkable in their own way, and as I reminisce on this past week I am fashionably fulfilled.

Since she has returned to the couture schedule two years ago, Donatella Versace has kicked off the festivities with her Atelier Versace fashion show. This year, she had a little help from her doppelganger Lady Gaga, who sat front row during the show and then next to her at dinner. (All in all, I counted the former Stefani Joanne Germanotta in no less than three ensembles throughout the evening.) Gaga herself, with a good measure of Grace Jones, was the inspiration for the show, which was dripping and draped in sumptuous fabrics and crystals and hooded in sheaths in long, blown out hair. A few days before the show, Donatella decided to throw a dinner. What she lacked in time for planning she made up for in spontaneous glamour. I was sat opposite Gaga and D.V., who cuddled like school girls with their matching black strapless Atelier dresses and long blonde locks. Gaga took selfies with Karlie Kloss, Mario Testino mugged with Azzedine Alaia, and Riccardo Tisci held court with the rest of the Italian contingency, including Italian Vogue’s editor Franca Sozzani.

The following day saw the launch of the revamped Schiaparelli label with an early morning show that drew fellow designers like Alaia, Jean Paul Gaultier and Pier Paolo and Maria Grazia from Valentino. Carla Bruni and Elle McPherson were there too. The show provided us all with a joyous, whimsical start to the day. The new designer, Marco Zanini, explained that not a single machine touched these completely handmade clothes, though they still reeked of modernity: even the finale bride wore a cropped pantsuit and veil. The shoes, all flats with plumps of feathers on the toes, made me regret ever telling a woman to put on a pair of high heels. Then there was Raf Simons’ haute couture show for Christian Dior, which was held in a specially constructed igloo structure in the Musee Rodin. The show was soft, flowing and full of holes in the fabric — but not in concept. The emphasis was on whites, which felt very modern and light in the confines of the space, with some navy blue thrown in. I was particularly taken by the off-the-shoulder dress that Stella Tennant wore in the show, as well as a white layered dress that draped away from the body in front, but created a perfect landing for some embroidery on the back. Later that day was Giambattista Valli, the gregarious Italian living in Paris, and his sixth couture offering. As is often the case with him, he turned to his garden for inspiration, with a flowering collection of short, strict dresses and long gowns. My favorite ensemble was a split gown worn over cigarette pants.

Tuesday was an iconic day, meaning it included two of the industry’s biggest icons: Chanel and Giorgio Armani. Chanel’s show was sequined and pasteled and sparkled within an inch of its life. The emphasis was on the waists, which were cinched and teeny tiny. Karl Lagerfeld also introduced an unexpected element: haute couture running shoes held together by lace ribbon laces. Mr. Armani this season turned again to two of my favorite things: Hollywood glamour and champagne, though in the case of the latter I mean the color more than the bubbly. He followed his show with a sit down dinner for about 400 of his closest friends which, in true Italian style, didn’t end till well past midnight. (Speaking of champagne, I must have had too much because I left my hat at dinner, and only by the grace of Armani’s stellar PR team did I get it back.)

The last day of couture started with Margiela. If you’re not familiar with the brand, start Googling. The mysterious house of Martin Margiela is a fashion industry favorite because of his unique, intellectual take on the seemingly unfashionable world around us. One of the first Margiela shows I ever went to had jackets made entirely of Pic pen caps – but it still looked like the most elegant thing we had ever seen. This season, we saw tops that were embroidered to look like couture tattoos, patchwork wrap tops in Frank Lloyd Wright fabrics and, my favorite, a pair of giant cuffs in the shape of sequined eyeballs. Jean Paul Gaultier followed with a new commentary on burlesque butterflies, which included a cameo from Dita von Teese herself. And finally, there was the Valentino show, which had everyone enraptured in its ethereal glamour. It was if the models were nymphs and they had emerged from a place in the woods were beautiful things are born. Even butterflies, which I had heretofore only associated with Mariah Carey, were reinterpreted as fanciful fashion candies. Florence Welch, who wore a green coat full of colorful embroired butterflies, said it was so beautiful she wanted to weep.

So, the two biggest trends? Trainers and butterflies. Who would have guessed? When Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci (who no longer shows on the couture schedule, though still does couture pieces for clients) was announced as the new designer at Nike, it should have been a clue that sportswear was coming back. But no one saw the trainers at both Dior and Chanel coming. It is funny how the fashion zeitgeist works, isn’t it?

Scroll down for more pictures from the haute couture.

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Captions, from top: A subtle shot from the Versace dinner with Gaga, Donatella, Franca, me and Mario; Lily Allen and Karl after his Chanel show; Anna dello Russo and Carine Roitfeld perched in the front row of the Margiela show; Tilda Swinton with some Asian fans, with a priceless expression on her face; Lindsey Wixson following her turn on the Versace catwalk; Stella Tennant in the opening look at the Schiaparelli show wearing a Stephen Jones pirate hat; the fries at Brasserie Lipp, served best with their chicken; Giorgio Armani and Afef Jay at his dinner; Gaga and Donatella looking like twinsies at dinner; my menswear moment at the Saint Laurent show; Hamish Bowles and Elizabeth Debicki, the breakout actress from the Great Gatsby, at Armani’s dinner; Florence at Valentino; me with Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and Joan Smalls at dinner; the embroidered tattoos at Margiela; Caroline Seiber at Giambattista Valli’s show; Alexander Wang, Vanessa Traina and Kate Bosworth at dinner; Donatella and Riccardo at dinner; Andreea Diaconu on the Versace runway; Joan at the Gucci documentary screening; a carousel in the Tuilleries, which I sadly didn’t get a chance to ride; the Chanel finale; my favorite look at Giambattista Valli; Tilda; WSJ. Magazine’s Kristina O’Neill with some undressed fashion patrons at the JPG show; Catherine Baba, Roland Mouret and Ellen von Unwerth at the Sidaction gala; the violinist virtuoso Rae Chen and the Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang at the Armani dinner; Lily and her chips at Lipp; Andreea Diaconu showing off her favorite Acne coat; Gaga taking selfies with Karlie; Lauren Santo Domingo, Joan, Florence and me at the Gucci party

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9:08 pm

LAST WORD BLASBERG: GIORGIO ARMANI ON MOVIE, MUSES AND PANT SUIT POLITICS

16/01/2014, From Elsewhere

For my new column in V magazine, appropriately called LAST WORD BLASBERG, I interviewed a titan of this industry: Giorgio Armani. The guy is an icon, and he’s not afraid to show it. Why learn English when you’re the king of Italian fashion? We talk about New York, muses and his fellow pantsuit aficionado Hilary Clinton. 

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Welcome to New York!
Giorgio Armani
 I love it here. It’s a city in continuous, constant evolution, with inexhaustible energy.

Do you remember your first time?
GA
 How could I forget? It was 1979; I came to collect the Neiman Marcus Award, which was a big deal for an Italian at the time. I was just starting out, and when I arrived my idea of New York was entirely based on films. For me it was a city of pure fantasy, made up of black-and-white images.

Which films?
GA
 Mostly the films of Fred Astaire, but also Mean Streets by Scorsese. I fell in love immediately. I like how it changes from one block to the next. Then there are the people, an electrifying mix of humanity that you can’t find anywhere else.

Are you an uptown or downtown person?
GA
 My style is perhaps uptown, but the New York that I like is downtown: chaotic but alive and in ferment. I’ve always found the concepts underlying the American Dream fascinating: tenacity, a sense of responsibility and liberty, full belief in what one does. These are values and thoughts that I too have always been inspired by in pursuing my own dream. So it’s no coincidence that in America my dream instantly garnered support.

Do you like any other American cities?
GA
 Los Angeles, Sunset Boulevard. It is such an immense city, so different from European ones. It is the cradle of cinema and the type of glamour that dreams are made of.

Since starting your label, have you ever worn a suit designed by someone other than Giorgio Armani?
GA
 No, I’ve only ever worn my own clothes. It’s a natural choice, don’t you think?

Do you have a muse?
GA
 Many. Certain garments are created especially for some of them, like the decidedly eccentric dress I designed for Lady Gaga. But I shouldn’t name names when it comes to my muses. I would forget someone and I wouldn’t hear the end of it…

OK, let’s talk about dead people then. What historical figure would you like to have designed for?
GA
 As a designer, the past has never attracted me. I admire historical figures, in particular the emancipated women of the 1920s, like Zelda Fitzgerald. But I am more interested in dressing modern women.

Who’s the first person that you think of when you think of a modern woman?
GA
 Cate Blanchett. Cate is truly modern, both fragile and strong, glacial and sensual. Hers is a unique elegance, because it is genuine.

The thing I admire most about you is that you have reached that stage in your career when you don’t have to humor fools or do anything you don’t want to. You are the king. To me, being in charge is the ultimate luxury.
GA
 I haven’t really thought about it. I think that it’s a stage that you arrive at unknowingly and you act accordingly. Like when you move from adolescence to maturity, one day you are no longer a boy but a man. That’s all there is to it. I have always been a man of action.

We’re communicating through a translator. Do you think you ever will learn English?
GA
 Never say never. But at the moment I grant myself this little luxury of not learning English. Not speaking it grants me the electrifying feeling of being a foreigner in transit. I like this.

Any American phrases you particularly like?
GA
 I like “hands-on.” It sums up my sense of pragmatism. You have to be hands-on to have success.

How do you stay so physically fit?
GA
 I believe in the motto, “A healthy mind is a healthy body.” I exercise consistently. For me this is essential. A balanced diet is undoubtedly another secret to keeping fit. And then there’s work, which keeps not only the body but also the mind fit.

Retrospectives tend to make the public feel nostalgic. Do you feel that?
GA
 Nostalgic celebrations create melancholy, and melancholy is not part of my makeup. My exhibition is not designed to be a commemoration but a gift to the people of the Big Apple who have always followed and supported my style. For this reason I didn’t just want to offer them a great parade, but also show the eccentric side of my fashion. I always look to the future and the new challenges that are waiting for me. The past is made up of lessons already learned and errors that won’t happen again. Nothing more.

Looking back, is there any particular Armani design that you’re most proud of?
GA
 It’s difficult to choose. I’m linked to certain things I did at the beginning, like the soft and completely embroidered male suit. It encapsulates my concept of the eccentric, only slightly theatrical and infinitely exquisite.

Speaking of suits and the American Dream, what do you think of Hillary Clinton?
GA
 I like her decisive and feisty manner. I like her self-assured and determined way.

She’s a self-described pantsuit aficionado. If Hillary were president, what do you think she should wear to the inauguration?
GA
 I love a strong woman in a suit, although a powerful woman today doesn’t need to wear trousers to succeed. An authoritative appearance helps though, and let’s just say Mrs. Clinton looks good in pants. So, yeah, she’d look great in a soft and sophisticated Armani pantsuit for that inauguration ceremony.

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4:19 pm

NEW YEAR’S EVE AT AN OLD HANGOUT: ST. BART’S

08/01/2014, Derek of the Day, Fast + Louche

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Paul McCartney was sat next to a friend of mine at lunch over the holidays and said to her how thankful he is every single time he finds himself on the island of St Bart’s. And further, any idiot who complains about being there, which was the in thing to do for awhile, was a wanker. So, who am I to argue with a Beatle?

Yes, I ended up in St. Bart’s again this year. I wasn’t sure I would, and I’m certainly not complaining about it. But I spent some time wondering if I should try something new. Palm Beach? Aspen? Los Angeles? New Year’s Eve is a good time to get away in fashion because, well, everyone takes off. It’s hard to work, even if you want to. And after nearly half a decade going to the same place, I debating a change of scenery. Then, when I was in St. Louis for Christmas, I realized: If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.

Like McCartney said, St. Bart’s is heaven. The island is small, the weather is wondrous, the food deliciously European, and the surf is beautiful. (But, spoiler alert: Ain’t nothing cheap on this island.) My favorite thing to do on St. Bart’s is what my friend Dr. Samantha Boardman, she of the website Positive Prescription, and I call The Hike. It starts behind her house on Flamands Beach and twists and turns through the cliffs and mountains behind Colombier Beach, which is arguably one of the most magical places anywhere. One of the highlights of this particular trip was a drive over to a new venue on the other side of the island for a new hike. It’s a place called Grand Fond, and it reminds me of where poets in Ancient Greece would have imagined the sirens would sing. The coast was jagged, rocks shooting out and the waves crashing out and creating giant sprays and temporarily tepid pools. One of the formations has been unofficially labeled as The Wash Machine because the tide continuously beats against it. The merciless power and beauty of nature, in full effect.

This was a more sedate New Year’s bash. (In years past, Roman Abramovic would host a lavish bash that would have the Black Eyed Peas, or Gwen Stefani, or Kings of Leon perform.) This time, Tico Mugrabi and Mike Fuchs did a dinner at Taiwanna, which was revved up when McCartney did an impromptu countdown at midnight. For me, the next few hours were a bit of a blur. I know we went to see Jimmy Buffet sing Margaritaville in town, and I did dance with some new friends at a nightclub. But still, the next day I did The Hike.

This season, I had some marvelous brushes with transportation devices. There was a Mini Cooper that I borrowed from a friend, and left outside, top down, during a downpour. (It was towed away. The way I told my friend: Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that I didn’t drown. The bad news is that your car did.) And then there was the Waverunner that nearly drowned me. After growing up on the Lake of the Ozarks, I thought I had mastered those things. But they ain’t got waves in Missouri like the do in the Caribbean. Found that out the hard way.

Toward the end of the stay, when my jeans were getting a bit tighter, I realized I needed to step up my athletic game. My friend Dasha took me paddleboarding, which I didn’t excel at. (Scroll down for proof.) But something I was better at was kicking the ball around with some of her Russian friends at the stadium on the island. I realized, though, that Russians don’t mess around when it comes to football.

The holidays ended and it was a rough reentry to the real world. Because, as anyone who lives above the Bible Belt and West of the Rockies can tell you, America is in the Polar Vortex. So, here I sit at my kitchen table, pouring through my pictures from paradise. The sea and the sun seem like they are so close, but also so far. Happy new year!

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Captions, from top: The view from Grand Fond; my room had hooks where I’d hang my white jeans and pink pants because I knew I’d have to put them at the back of the closet when I came back to New York; me and Marc on New Year’s Eve; the fireworks outside the Rosen’s house; French Vanity Fair’s Virginie Mouzat, Jean Pegozzi and Katie Lee; Paul McCartney takes the mic for the New Year’s Even countdown; the Brant Brothers, now official staples of St. Bart’s; Gabi and Charlie Rosen with their lady friends Roni and Gabriella; Peggy Seigel and Samantha; Vito Schnabel and Alberto Mugrabi on the puddle jumper; Russian Christmas; me and Dasha in a Mini Cooper I nearly ruined; a Jetski that nearly ruined me; a daily reminder that I was lucky to be avoiding the Polar Vortex, if only temporarily; a field on the Grand Fond side of St. Bart’s; Jessica and Samantha on the top of Grand Fond; some of the rocks on the bottom of the cliff; my feeble attempt at paddleboarding; the view from atop The Hike; Dasha on the pitch; Dasha and I after our football match, looking wore down yet rugged.

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8:38 pm

IT’S ONE VIDEO. FIFTY SIX SONGS. TEN MINUTES OF LAST YEAR’S NOSTALGIA.

06/01/2014, Fast + Louche, Observations

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I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I’m the guy that can spend hours leafing through an old Yearbook, or, more recently, stalking old friends from former lives on Facebook. (Maria Zemen, if you’re reading this, can you hurry up and join Facebook? Thankyew.) And in particular, music is something that can zing me back to a forgotten time. Hole songs remind me of when me and the aforementioned Maria crashed a concert as high schoolers in Missouri. The Moulin Rouge soundtrack reminds me of freshmen year of college. Any Johnny Cash song reminds me of Hillsboro, where my uncle Fred built the Blasberg Family farm. N’SYNC reminds me of experimenting with shitty hair highlights. Kyle Minogue reminds me of my year abroad when I lived in London and started my career in fashion. Ricky Martin just reminds me of being happy. Ha! Anyway, when I stumbled upon this 10 minute long music video of all the best songs of 2013, it reminded me of all the things I did (and a few of the things I didn’t do) in the past twelve months. Sit back, listen, and remember the year that was.

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10:20 am

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (BUT MAINLY PICTURES OF THE WORLD’S CUTEST BABY)

30/12/2013, General

st louis 1An avid reader of this blog already knows how proud I am of my Missouri heritage. I’ve posted about my summers at the Lake of the Ozarks, and when I’ve come home to St. Louis for the holidays. And who could forget that birthday party I had at the Blasberg Family Farm, and these Polaroids that Karlie gave me as a birthday present? So, with the holiday wrapped and as I look back at the pictures of my most recent stay in the family homestead, I’ve realized this most recent trip wasn’t about my favorite St Louis hotspots. No, I didn’t make it to Steak N Shake or Pasta House or Plaza Frontenac or Forest Park or the Science Center. I have a new muse back in Missouri: Little Will, my year-and-a-half year old nephew and god son. He’s blonde and blue eyed and adorable and can get by with everything. Mark my words: I’m going to spoil the shit out of this kid! And while I was home I took about a gazillion pictures of the little heart breaker. I will throw in some scenic shots and a picture of me in front of a wall of reindeer for good measure, but this year it’s all about this guy. Isn’t he perfect?

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Captions, from top: Will in a box on Christmas morning; Will continues his Christmas terrorizing; the sun set at Uncle Fred’s farm in Hillsboro; Christmas dinner at my friend Maria’s house, which has not changed since we first became friends in kindergarten; Will looking up to me; Will on the box; my mother with Monster and my Monster sweater; the sun rise at Uncle Fred’s farm in Hillsboro; Will still in the box

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2:19 pm

THE CATS ARE BACK: SOME SEXY FELINES TEACH HOLIDAY ETIQUETTE

23/12/2013, Fast + Louche, From Elsewhere, Very Classy

Last year, I teamed up with my friends Classy Cat and Drunk Pussy to help illustrate holiday etiquette. Not much has changed since then: The holidays are still a time of merriment, etiquette is still important, and cats still rule the internet. So, without further ado, behold ‘The Eticats.’ (And for more, scroll down to see some hilarious bloopers and outtakes.)

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4:40 pm

ZACHARY QUINTO IS TOM WINGFIELD: A CONVERSATION WITH THE ACTOR ON HIS BROADWAY DEBUT

16/12/2013, General

I was not a boy who watched Star Trek. When I was little, I was more into Tennessee Williams than I was science fiction TV dramas. But this fall in New York, those worlds converged when Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the recent big screen revamp of the cult TV show, began a run as Tom in one of my favorite Williams plays, ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ on Broadway. I was there when the play opened, and I’m happy to report that Quinto was an inspired choice for the part. Which was a bit of a relief. As any Williams scholar knows, this part was Tennessee’s most autobiographical. The choices that Zach made were poignant. And, for any of my Missouri readers out there, the bonus of this play: It takes place in my beloved St Louis. BELOW, my chat with the actor following his stellar performance. Go to vmagazine.com for more

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HOLLYWOOD DARLING ZACHARY QUINTO THRIVES ON THE SPICE OF LIFE, TAKING ON ROLES IN BLOCKBUSTERS ALONGSIDE BROADWAY PLAYS. AFTER OPENING NIGHT OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’S THE GLASS MENAGERIE, HE SPOKE WITH OUR EDITOR-AT-LARGE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF VARIETY

Playing it cool isn’t the easiest thing to do, and to his credit, the stern severity and rigidity that Zachary Quinto brought to the role of Spock in the recent Star Trek revamp is a testament to the 36-year-old’s acting skills. However, luckily for us, seeing him play the part of Tom in Tennessee Williams’ 1944 play The Glass Menagerie allows the actor to show us his complicated side. The play takes place in St. Louis, Missouri (this writer’s hometown, as I’m happy to tell anyone!) and follows a few nights with an unconventional Midwestern family: Quinto’s character is an arts-minded youth with a crappy factory job who supports a complex and delusional mother (played superbly by Cherry Jones) and a homebound, socially awkward, slightly handicapped younger sister (Celia Keenan-Bolger). Any drama buff knows that Quinto’s is an important role, since, as the actor points out, this is Williams’s most autobiographical work. After seeing the play, we asked him what it was like to tackle the role.

How familiar were you with Tennessee and this play before you signed on to do it?
ZACHARY QUINTO
I came to this experience with an appreciation for Tennessee and his plays—but without any deep familiarity. I had read The Glass Menagerie and most of his other major plays, and I had seen a number of his works over the years. But I had never worked with any of his material myself until this production.

How did you prepare?
ZQ
 I read. A lot. There is no shortage of literature about Tennessee, often written by Tennessee himself. So I just dove into anything I could find about his life and his experiences. Tom Wingfield is the most autobiographical character in Williams’s canon, so learning everything I could about Tennessee helped me gain a point of access into the character.

You know I’m from St. Louis. Did you have to do any research on the city? My face lit up when The Jewel Box was mentioned. It’s my favorite place back home.
ZQ
Sadly, I have yet to make it to St. Louis. So all of my knowledge of the city is from books and pictures. It was such a difference place in the 30’s. Teeming with people from all over the country and the world, converging to gain some measure of accomplishment. It was full of possibility and life. I look forward to using the play as a point of reference when I finally get to travel there.

You do a convincing slightly-southern-mid-Atlantic accent. Was that difficult?
ZQ
The poetry of this play is so beautiful and well structured that a vocal quality and cadence merge within it over time. Being true to Tennessee’s roots and also his affectations was important. But so was making the distinction that Tom is his own person. I make vocal choices that hopefully support that distinction.

At its core, it’s a sad tale. Tennessee himself had a sick sister, which beleaguered him all his life. You have the final monologue, the last word on a failing American Dream. How do you cope at the end of a performance?
ZQ
Strangely, perhaps, I find myself exhilarated at the end of every show. There is catharsis in the journey of this play for me that allows me to feel a sense of gratitude each time we finish a performance. It is a sad tale on many levels. But it also contains such a universal sense of humanity; that there is a kind of communion between the company and the audience that becomes life affirming.

You seem to have hit a good rhythm between big production Hollywood fare and something more intimate and personal, like Broadway. Is that important?
ZQ
Diversity is key for me. I am always at my best when I am busy. And I like to immerse myself fully in experiences that demand different facets of my interests and abilities.

And how are you coping with the grueling schedule of being on Broadway?
ZQ
I try to set up a structure for myself that allows time for self-care. Being productive with my days and trying to be active. Taking care of myself. But, I also enjoying the social aspect of being on Broadway. It helps that I am a total night owl too.

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Captions, from top: a copy of the most recent revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie; the cast; me and Zachary out in New York earlier this year

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7:00 am

DESIGN GURUS BRONSON VAN WYCK AND CELERIE KEMBLE UNVEIL THEIR OWN HOLIDAY WORKSHOP

13/12/2013, Fast + Louche

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Oh yes, it’s that time of year: Holiday party time. It’s easy to complain about these moments of forced celebrations, but the holiday party may be one of the few things that I’m not jaded about. I like eggnog and layering clothes and being social and getting presents. Decorating, though, isn’t my strong suit. But that’s why I’m buddies with Bronson and Celerie, uptown design darlings who have collaborated on The Holiday Workshop, a one of a kind, residential retail experience at 19 East 75th Street. Holiday decorations include fully decorate bespoke holiday trees with Mongolian sheepskin tree skirts and thousands of hand painted lights (with proceeds benefiting East Harlem School), red lacquer wreathes, vintage table top items and glasses, engraved julep cups, handmade stationery, and more stuff that will make people feel fancy. Bronson will also be offering his popular Arrowhead Farms cocktail mixes and salad dressing. Celerie is retailing her furniture line from Henredon and the space is beautifully decorated with Celerie’s pieces accented by Bronson’s designs and curated tabletop items — it is a warm and enveloping space. Shoppers can purchase the entire “look” or the individual items. Here, I chatted with Bronson about the collection.

The holidays are coming. Tell me: Are you excited by the prospect of holiday parties, decor and merry making? Or is it all so daunting now?

I am always excited this time of year.  Everything and everyone look their best and people are in the mood to party.  Why should it be daunting?  If you’re worried about the holidays, you’re either over-committed or you’re under-staffed.  Edit your schedule and prioritize.  If you’re giving a party, either prepare everything ahead of time, or staff up.  Your guests are there to see you smile.  Give them what they’re there for, along with a stiff drink, and everything will be fine.

I like to think I’m decoration-ally challenged. What are some simple things that someone like me can do to spruce up their place for the holidays? (I used to have a two feet, pre-lit Christmas tree. But I lost it under my bed or my couch.)

Lighting.  If you don’t have time for a tree or simply cannot find it under the bed (try looking next to your box of summer speedos), invest in some Christmas lights. Better yet, get bistro lights.  The bigger bulbs feel vintage and European at the same time.  String the lights across your mantle, ceiling, entry, the mirror you use to take your selfies – wherever – to give an added warmth and glow to your space and your life.

Talk to me about the townhouse uptown: How did you find the space? What are some of the favorite things you have in the shop?

Celerie and I knew we wanted to set-up the holidays this year in a real home.  So my dog, Cat, and I set out on foot to find a townhouse.  The space is filled with vintage and antique finds and holiday decorations from Poland, Antwerp, Paris, Mexico City, Arkansas, and hundreds of yards of tartan from Scotland.  My favorites are the vintage barware and decanters, the selection of complete holiday dinner table settings (one of which you can buy here on Moda Operandi) an original photograph of Winston Churchill, and the custom malachite tree skirt we fashioned for our Chinoiserie inspired Christmas tree.  Of course the bespoke trees, sales of which benefit East Harlem School, are the biggest seller.

You started by providing a service: interiors and events, right? When did you transition into products, and was that an organic transition? What else do you have in the pipeline?

I have been decorating homes at Christmas for special clients and friends for nearly 10 years.  Last year, I opened the shop during the holidays so that we could do this for more people.  I’m committed to doing everything I can to motivate and encourage people to throw parties, to celebrate happy moments, to drink a little too much.

 Allow me to help on that last one. Cheers! Speaking of, I’m excited about your holiday party this year. How long does it take to plan and execute your fete?

It varies.  Sometimes all the ideas come out in a cascade, and I just have to hope I’m able to write them down.  Other times, it takes me weeks or months.  The Seven Swans a-Swimming party was a snap.  Eight Maids a-Milking took a little more time.  Ten Lords a-Leaping should’ve been easy, but it was the first year I hadn’t done it at home, so I had to make a lot of changes to make it work at The Lion.  I’ve not decided one thing about this year’s party.  But it’ll come.

Much to my dismay, last year I got there just after the go go boy holiday elf dancers did their set. Biggest regret ever.

Can we please not use the term “go go boy” ever again?  “Prancing elves,” or even “dancing elves,” are more accurate, not to mention less gutter-sounding.

Noted. I’ll keep it out of the gutter. [Eds. note: Please see above picture of a prancing elf playing a bagpipe.] So, what have been some of your more festive party favors?

Well, my general feeling is that the guests are the favors.  And this has been born out by the number of relationships that have begun (or ended) at my parties.  We had the milkmaids who served tequila from prosthetic breasts two years ago.  We also had a minotaur that year.  And a miniature billy goat.  The cheerleaders last year were inspired by the mash-up of Express Yourself and Born This Way that Madonna did in her MDNA show.  I’m a big believer in the Jello shot too.

And, last question and I’m sure it’s an annoying one: Favorite party ever? (As a guest and as an organizer?)

All the ones that I’m invited to.

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All images from The Holiday Workshop: 19 East 75th Street.

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9:28 am

A CHANEL SHOW IN DALLAS? FRENCH STYLE MEETS SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY IS WORTH WRITING (AND RIDING) ABOUT

12/12/2013, General

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Horseback riding? Dolly Parton? Carrie Underwood’s anthem ‘Before He Cheats’? I’ve made no secret of my affection for all things Southern. Something new to add to the list: Karl Lagerfeld’s trip to Dallas, Texas, to present a special Chanel collection. It wrapped last night, and coming back to the real world has been difficult. Don’t take my word for it. I just received this email from my friend Giovanna Battaglia: “I miss the Dallas bubble where everyone wears chanel, everything is taken care of, and the only occupation is to learn cowboy dance moves while having Jell-O shots with the most fun group of people.” The Kaiser did it again.

Let’s discuss the important  element of any Chanel production: The showmanship. Yes, the clothes were great. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) But what a day! The first part of the evening was a screening of Karl’s latest short film, this time starring Geraldine Chaplin as the legendary couturier. It’s a touching film about Coco’s return following the war and a 17 year absence. Not that this was a typical screening: Everyone was ushered to their seat inside a vintage convertible and watched the film from there. Karl himself sat in the back of a mid century black Rolls Royce next to Anna Wintour. Andre Leon Talley sat shotgun.

When the credits came up, we all filed into the show venue, which was a barnlike amphitheater. Kristen Stewart, who was just announced as a new face of the brand, came in and couldn’t contain a smile, which was nice to see mainly because it doesn’t happen that often. And then the show began. What a show it was. Karl’s greatest skill is the ability to tap into something – symbols, culture, an era, a person – and flush out the best elements while managing to avoid being clichéd or obvious. Now, in a place like Texas, which is rich in visual texts (big bangs, big fringes, big belt buckles immediately come to mind), this can be especially difficult. Yet he managed to be both contemporary and referential. Yes, there were cowboy boots and fringe. But of course. However, there was never the impression that the show was costume-y or forced. Even if they convinced Linda Grey, the star of the TV show Dallas, to come back for to town for a victory lap.  It was a standout collection.

After the designer took his bow, the party began. In what was the size of an airplane hanger, the hottest and sexiest nigh club that ever existed in Dallas was constructed. Shame, then, that it only lasted one night. The mechanical bull was brought out; Hot Chip took the stage; professional line dancers taught us the paces, which probably would have been a better idea to do before we all guzzled cocktails; Lynn Wyatt, the most divine of Texans, held court with Karl. It was all of my favorite American things refined with a French saivoir faire. I cozied up to Karl when the model Edward rode the bull – check out my Instagram account for a video of that – and he asked if it was an authentic representation of Texan culture. I looked down at my beer and winked. It was the chicest incarnation of cowboy chic.

Our last stop was The Round Up, a gay line dancing bar (you heard me right) in the middle of town that has a sunken dance floor and enough boys who are boot scooting and boogying that even a novice dancer like myself can blend in with the moves. How much fun did I have? As I sit here and write this, my thighs are still burning. Who knew line dancing could be such good cardio?

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Captions, from top: Karl Lagerfeld near the bull pen; me getting lassoed by a couple of Chanel bags; the lovely Lily Collins; VIP seating for the film screening; Laura Love on the mechanical bull; Carlyne de Cerf, Sarah Nataff and Crystal Renn; Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevingne; Erin Wasson and her mother; me and a couple of ranch hands; Sofia Sanchez and Caroline de Magret; Jen Brill, Sarah Hoover and Mel Ottenberg; some of the 74 vintage cars at the drive in; music impresario Michel Gaubert backstage; Joan Smalls and Jacquelyn Jablonski during rehearsals; Alexa at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; Poppy at Dolly Python, a fabulous vintage shop; the return policy at Dolly Python; a weird piece of art outside our hotel; Angela Lindvall on the bull; Leandra Medine, local Texan Taylor Tomasi and Dani Stahl; Poppy and Alexa driving me wild; Lynn Wyatt and Jerry Stafford; the finale of the show; Giovanna with the Jell-O shots; Sigred Agren and Jacquelyn; Harley Viera Newton at the Round Up; Angela, Poppy, Kristina O’Neill, Rebekah and Sarah; me and Georgia May Jagger during last call
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12:14 am

ART, FASHION, NIGHTCLUBS AND (IF YOU COULD SQUEEZE IT IN) A BEACH: THIS YEAR’S ART BASEL MIAMI

09/12/2013, General

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“It’s like Black Friday for rich people.” That’s how a friend of mine described the VIP opening at Miami’s main convention center, which is the official home of the Art Basel Miami fair, an annual event where galleries from around the world come to hock their wares and promote new artists. My friend wasn’t exactly exaggerating, either. I was there when the doors flung open and many of the art world’s biggest movers and shakers – and spenders – burst in and started scouring the galleries and stands and making deals and slapping stickers on things. They weren’t hitting each other and pulling each other’s wigs and braids out, like I’ve seen in those fabulous Black Friday videos. But they might as well have been.

Yes, some people here were obsessed with the acquisition of art, even if it has more to do with ‘ownership’ and ‘investment,’ as opposed to a love for art and decoration. But I still think that’s a good thing. My biggest complaint when it comes to the festivities surrounding Art Basel Miami is that they don’t have enough to do with, err, art. Which I don’t say from a place of arrogance: I’m a proud member of the fashion community and I love the people I’m fortunate enough to work with. But, isn’t fashion week enough?

The trick is for a fashion brand to create a connection – a genuine thought, because nothing feels as wrong as a forced collaboration between the fashion and art worlds – and create a mutually beneficial relationship. Take Louis Vuitton for example, who teamed up with the estate of the late, great artist Charlotte Perriand to finally execute her model house design. Google it. Simply amazing. Nearly 80 years after her original designs and the house still felt divine and modern. (Vuitton did a sophisticated dinner, for which they brought in their new ambassador, the lovely and amazing Michelle Williams, and a luncheon the following day.) LVMH made a big impression on Art Basel this year. Their menswear brand Berluti had a chic and understated opening for their Design District boutique, with a dinner hosted inside the gallery that housed Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz’s collection of modern art. They even served Joe’s Stone crabs and provided bibs with tuxedos on them.

What about the art? The fair in the convention center is huge. Like, imposingly and ridiculously large. Lose a friend in there and they’re lost forever. I went to the fair twice and found myself consistently drawn to the large scale works of Jack Pierson (even though I don’t think Carol Blasberg would appreciate that ‘Motherfucker’ work) and Doug Aitken, who’s pieces ‘More x4’ and ‘END’ both ended up on my Instagram. It was interesting that I was so drawn to these big pieces. Maybe it’s because as a New Yorker, size is everything. I wish I had a wall big enough to house those pieces!

And then it was off to the more affordable fairs, like SCOPE and NADA. Even though when I say affordable I don’t mean clearance racks. I had my eye on a poster – not even an original work – that was an old 1980’s promotion of the art show that debuted the works that Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol did together that has them both with their dukes up and wearing boxing shorts. It cost the equivalent to two months of my rent. (But if anyone is looking to get me a good Christmas present, now you know!) I was really impressed by a show that the art dealer Adam Lindemann put together called ‘Piston Head,’ which was a tribute to the cars of art lovers. So there was a tricked out cop car that Tom Sachs designed, a revved up Porsche from Richard Prince, the dotted Mini Cooper that Damien Hirst commissioned, and – my favorite – a 1963 Buick Select that Keith Haring painted on in 1983. That’s probably the only Buick that could sell for millions.

Some of the art world has started to abstain from coming to the fair. Maybe they’re over it. Maybe they don’t like the sun. But a few of my favorites were there, like the indomitable Agnes Gund, a tireless patron of arts education and an icon of the MOMA museum. Klaus Biesenbach, another favorite, toasted her at the NADA with a quick speech and some champagne at sunset. I got in a few squeezes with the artists Dan Colen and Ryan McGinley, who were both in town for a hot second. And then there was Aby Rosen, who owns the popular W hotel in Miami, and the art dealer Tico Mugrabi, who can’t help but show everyone in their orbit a good time.

Speaking of having a good time, this is Miami, after all. So there were a few nights on the town too. Which explains the picture of me, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton: We all bumped into each other on the way to the Wall, the nightclub at the W hotel. Camilla al Fayed hosted a luncheon at the Soho Beach House for her brand Issa, where Mark Ronson was DJ’ing and let me pick a few songs. (‘Vogue.’ Always ‘Vogue.’) And oh, I met the legendary Cindy Crawford at a part that Leonardo DiCaprio hosted on the appropriately named Star Island. It was nice to put a face – and a beauty mark – with the famous supermodel, [who I had interviewed only a few weeks before for this V story.]

‘Twas such a busy week indeed that my recreational activities suffered while I was in Miami. In the end, the closest I got to the beach was when I walked down the boardwalk in combat boots. The closest I got to a pool was Boy Child’s performance. Not that I’m complaining. I get enough pools and beaches the rest of the year. Art Basel, though it can feel like the same parties and people as all the previous incarnations of the event, only happens once a year.

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Captions, from top: Michelle Williams and Kate Young at a dinner for Louis Vuitton; Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie with me at a dinner at the W Hotel; Diana Picasso, Agnes Gund and the MOMA’s Klaus Biesenbach at an impromptu toast to Gund; the lanterns decorating a dinner for the Charlotte Perriand house at the Raleigh Hotel; Scout Willis and Mr Andre at the Berluti cocktail party; me and Cindy Crawford; the legendary Tico Mugrabi; the hosts with the most, Samantha Boardman and Aby Rosen, at the Wall nightclub in the W; the view at the Wall; the time that Nicole Richie accidentally bumped into her father at Leonardo DiCaprio’s house party; a painting by Louis Eisner; Fabiola Beracasa at an installation by the Still Group; a last tango at an event to celebrate the opening of the new Faena resort; my footwear for most of the week; a bad word by Jack Pierson; some dots from Yayoi Kusama; Harry Brant and Barron Hilton; Jean Pegozzi and Alexia Niedzielski; Andrea Dellal and Delfina Fendi; Mark Ronson DJ’ing an event for our friend Camilla al Fayed and her fashion company, ISSA; WSJ. Magazine’s Kristina O’Neill, Karolina Kurkova, Paris and Amanda Hearst at the W magazine dinner; a performance from Boy Child at the Delano Hotel, which Klaus curated; the best Buick ever, since Keith Haring tagged it in 1983; and a sign denoting the beach, which I never got to.
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